Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Sign in to follow this  
Requizen

Set Rotation: What does it mean to the players?

Recommended Posts

This has come up in a few different threads and on other places online, so let's chat about set rotations and formats for a bit:

What is a format?

Formats are different ways to play the game, though most people stick to the "main supported" format. Underworlds already has several formats: Matched Play (with Banned and Restricted Lists and Best of 3 format), Open Play (general, no restrictions), Multiplayer, Katophrane Artifact (King of the Hill style included in Shadespire book), and Glass-Mad Gargant (PvE with backstabbing, introduced in White Dwarf).

While many people don't think of Formats when talking about Underworlds, that's because most people play Open or Matched, with the other formats coming up fairly regularly. Open and Matched generally see the same types of decks (Matched Play likely shifting a bit more with meta if you keep up with such things), while Multiplayer and Gargant will often require specific decks to perform a bit better. 

What is a set rotation?

In living card games (card games that get new cards released over time rather than one-offs), a rotation is when the company dictates that specific cards will no longer be used in a format. For instance, Hearthstone (a digital card game) releases 3 sets per year and has two Formats, Standard and Wild. In Standard, only cards from sets released this year and last year will be allowed, so right now only 2018 cards and 2019 cards are in play. Magic the Gathering does similar rotations for their Standard format, but also has Modern, a format that goes even further back. 

Rotations do not affect all Formats, unless the company decides they will. Generally speaking, they will maintain one format as the one they focus on balancing (generally the one that they support tournaments and events for) and that Format will have a rotation. 

Why do card games utilize set rotations?

The reasons are manifold. The biggest three, I believe, are these:

First, this allows the designers to pivot on their design and not be stuck with cards that are no longer part of their philosophy. Due to power creep and occasional oversights, you will often end up with a set from years ago that is on a completely different power level from the ones that are being printed currently. In Underworlds, you can see this with the BAR list - Of the cards on there, a large majority (26/32) are from Shadespire. There were many cards printed that were way ahead of the skew, that we can now look back on with 2 years of experience and wonder how they ever made it off the presses to begin with. Would a card like Time Trap or Great Concussion be printed now? Absolutely not, or at least not in the way they are currently worded.

Second, it lowers barrier to entry. While not all players need to complete their collection or need everything to be able to netdeck, many players who play Card Games enjoy having full collections to be able to utilize all the cards they want, or simply to fill out their card binders. Once you pass the two or three year mark, this goes from "expensive" to "mortgage payment" for a new person looking to get into it. Especially for competitive players, when the competitive decks utilize cards from various sources. A rotation means that the $240 of Shadespire sets are no longer necessary to consider purchasing if you are playing in the Rotational Format.

Third, it keeps the meta fresh. A game where cards always remain in play will have a very stale metagame, in that you will eventually find the best cards for a given deck and not change. There may be some variety as counterdecks crop up, but these are often finnicky and don't impact the meta in an overall way. If you do not rotate cards out of the game, then in order to keep competitive players buying new cards and trying new things, the company would have to power creep very hard and print cards that are stronger and stronger, which in essence would rotate out old sets anyways. By removing sets from a Format, you allow the space to print cards that may otherwise be overlooked, but now would be taken because there is no alternative. Even with BAR list, you see cards like Escalation, Trap, and Ready for Action in nearly every deck. If these were no longer choices, it would open up deckbuilding to new possibilities.

What does a set rotation for Underworlds look like?

Truthfully, nobody knows, and it could be some time before we hear word of it. Many people (including myself) believe it will happen with the next "collection" after Nightvault, and will see cards from Shadespire removed from the Matched Play Format. 2 Years is the general rotation window you see for many games, including Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone, which are two of the frontrunners for CCGs on the market.

Models and Boards are one of the things that separate Underworlds from those games, however. Many people agree that Universal cards will see a rotation, but what that means for Warbands and their Faction Cards is another question entirely. I think that is something that it is best not to ponder too much on, as there are many ways this could be handled and we won't know which will be chosen until it's announced. The two most likely are that Shadespire Warbands will rotate out of Matched Play completely, or that they will be allowed with their Faction Cards but not the Universal Cards that come with their set. I would not make any assumptions at this juncture, however.

Why is my stuff getting invalidated? I paid money for it, shouldn't I always have it available?

First, you will have it available! No one is going to force you to shelve them for good, or to shred your cards. It is highly likely that any set rotation will only affect Matched Play. To once again draw parallels (as I'm sure GW will as well), Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering both have formats which allow you to utilize cards that have rotated out of Standard. For Underworlds, this is Open Play at the minimum, and will also likely include Multiplayer and any other format that is not focused on by the balance team. 

Now what your local group plays may cause difficulties here. If they only want to focus on Matched Play and will not be building decks that include previous sets, you should check with them in advance to see if they are ok with you continuing to utilize cards that have rotated out of play. I would assume that most people would be fine with it, though of course there is the off chance that they are Tournament Players (not that that's a bad thing, I'm one myself) and will shirk any experience that is outside Matched. This is something that would need to be resolved interpersonally, obviously.

Though the main point being, if your game experience involves anything outside tournaments/events, there should be no problems involving using old sets. Many of the more popular Magic the Gathering formats (Commander and Two Headed Giant, for example) do not require Standard Rotation cards at all!

Why should I be forced to buy more if I do want to go to tournaments? I'm not competitive, but that's just where I play.

This is a very valid concern, of course. There are a lot of people in both Underworlds and AoS that only get out to 1 dayers or big events like Adepticon that already get frustrated because they're not "keeping up" and it shows in more competitive environments. Rotations can be extra annoying for these types of people because they don't get enough time to play the collection they already have, let alone buy new things to keep up with the rotation. Someone who plays once a month or once every two months is going to be quite upset that the things they purchased and barely got to use are going to rotate out.

Sadly, there isn't really a good answer for those types of players. Set rotations, as pointed above, are necessary or at least extremely helpful to keep the game alive and flowing for most players. There is the hope that people will run Open Play events often once the sets rotate, allowing people to utilize old cards. Stores that run Magic the Gathering events will run Legacy formats, which is analogous to Open Play and allows anything to be used (with some bans). 

If the set rotation and Format affects you in this way, just ask your Warhammer store or FLGS to run an event in a Format that best fits you. It's more than likely that they'll do their best to accommodate you - after all, they want people in seats and wallets out at their store! 

Is there any hard proof that GW will implement Set Rotations into Underworlds?

Hard proof? No, but the signs are currently there. 

  • At Adepticon during the Grand Clash, GW employees put out a survey asking various things about Underwolrds, one of which was whether you wanted to see rotations and formats included in the game.
  • The implementation of the BAR list shows that GW is aware that at least a handful of the cards released in Shadespire are problematic and need banning or limiting. Rotational Formats are the next things often implemented to combat these types of issues.
  • Logically looking at the cards released in Nightvault, we see cards that are straight reprints (Tainted Vitality <-> Lifesurge) and cards that have similar effects, but at a different power level (Spoils of Battle <-> Ghoulish Pact, or Incredible Strength <-> Gloryseeker). This leads one to believe that they have cards that they would like to keep in an upcoming rotation, but have gone about balancing them differently to make up for things that may have been too strong previously.

Conclusion

I think (and many others agree) that it is highly likely that a Rotational Format is coming. But don't panic! This is likely very good for the game, and additionally most casual players won't even notice a difference unless their play group forces it on them. If you have further concerns, let's discuss them in this thread and hopefully we can alleviate apprehension and create a more positive outlook on the matter.

  • Like 2
  • LOVE IT! 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is a good thing not just for balance but adoption. New players are very put off already by having to buy 2 years of models to 'be competitive'. If you agree or not that players need every set is largely off topic. If they didn't do a rotation and stuck to the BAR I think they would need to release some kind of year one card pack.

 

I think a really strong tell as you mentioned is the reprinting of existing cards. In one way this can be to allow decks to focus more by running 2 of an effect but bigger picture this can definitely point to a rotation.

 

As a competitive player I will play each release regardless of a rotation or not, I've yet to find the game stale even at points where others have. My opinion is also we have not seen power creep in the models themselves and most of the power comes from universal cards. I think this i a really good sign for keeping old warbands viable in a post universal card rotation future. I could see a total rotation being problematic as GW fans at heart are largely collectors and there would be some definite anger with factions losing the ability to play the game.

 

Rotation or not will not affect my interest in the game. One of my favorite things about the game is how far the meta shifts every release and how much fun that is for going to events. I think rotating can only help to keep this feeling alive.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post @Requizen, with some very well-made points in there.  Fundamentally what you are saying is correct, some kind of rotation is essential.  We all want this game to thrive which means continued support and innovation.  The sheer volume of cards in the game cannot keep growing and growing indefinitely, and the barriers to entry for new players need to be manageable.

My own background is that there are 4 of us locally who buy every release.  The actual Warbands we are interested in varies, so we all have some different ones sitting on sprue: but we all want every Universal card, so we all buy everything that comes out.  Having said that, Underworlds is not our main game; that would be AOS.  It's a side game that we really enjoy and play pretty regularly between ourselves, but not at tournaments.

I think that what makes this situation more complex than MTG is the models.  That's something that just doesn't exist in other games.  I actually wouldn't mind "having my purchases invalidated" if I was able to buy only what I wanted to.  What would leave a sour taste for me is that the cards come with a substantial "model tax", i.e. to keep having access to all cards (or even the cards you want), you are compelled to buy all models, whether you want them or not.

If the Universal cards were sold separately to the models in future, I really wouldn't mind having the Universals rotated out every couple of years.  The only reason I would find rotation problematic is because I had to pay substantially more to purchase those cards in the first instance, to gain access to models I didn't particularly want.

Speaking personally (and probably on behalf of my group), local sales will probably go from 8 of each release to zero if old cards are rotated out and models + cards are not unbundled.  Not because I think rotation is bad for the game (I totally understand that it is essential to the game). but because there will be a feeling that the cost of the "model tax" is unsustainable for cards that only have a 2-year lifespan.

I'm not sure what will be better from a business perspective.  Warhammer Quest seems to have been killed stone dead by the release of Hammerhal instead of support + expansions for Silver Tower for a couple of years.  I know quite a few people who bought and were enjoying ST who wouldn't go near Hammerhal when it dropped, because they weren't ready for the existing system to be scrapped and weren't up for a new big box every year.

On the other hand, GW have definitely got a lot more $$$ out of me so far by bundling the Universal cards + models together than they would have done by allowing me to just buy the Universals for the warbands I wasn't really interested in.  So the model is definitely working: I'm just slightly nervous about whether it will continue to work after the first wave of rotations happens.

For my group, if cards from Shadespire are rotated out in a few months, I could see us jumping off and saying "This is what Underworlds is for us".  And just using the existing 2 years indefinitely. 

(That being said, our particular situation is definitely impacted by the fact that it is not our main game (so we might not feel we have our "money's worth" when we don't play the game all the time and therefore scarcely use some cards before they are rotated out; and also that we have not "solved" the game in any way, so we could easily explore the existing warbands and cards for a couple more years to come at our current rate).  I understand that this won't apply to everyone.)

My own best case scenario would be for rotation to happen, and for Warbands from next season onwards to be sold with just the models + specific cards, alongside an expansion deck of Universals released simultaneously.  Then I could buy the Warbands I like, every Universals deck, and keep going indefinitely.  However I do accept that this is a less likely outcome than GW continuing to bundle the models + cards together.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, PlasticCraic said:

I think that what makes this situation more complex than MTG is the models.  That's something that just doesn't exist in other games.  I actually wouldn't mind "having my purchases invalidated" if I was able to buy only what I wanted to.  What would leave a sour taste for me is that the cards come with a substantial "model tax", i.e. to keep having access to all cards (or even the cards you want), you are compelled to buy all models, whether you want them or not.

 

Some really good points in this thread, kinda wish I'd seen it before rambling on in another one but hey!

@PlasticCraic I'd like to explore your feelings about the 'model tax' if we may.  I'm not sure I actually agree with you on this but it might just be a perspective sort of thing I'm not sure.  I view each expansion as a product.  So I don't separate the 'model' from the cards.  So for example I'll probably but the next dwarf expansion because I like the models where as I got the 'eyes of the nine' set for some of the cards in it and will almost certainly never play that warband.

I can see that if the cards and the models were sold independently then I would have spent less so I agree with you there.  I'm not sure how much I would save because I highly doubt that the cost of the two parts would have much to do with the pure cost of manufacture.  I also suspect that whatever pricing model was used the cost of getting both parts would be far in excess of the current price of the one product.  I obviously can't prove that however.  I guess I just don't think the 'tax' is going to be a significant amount even though it probably does exist at a conceptual level.

Now there is the comparison with something like MtG which a lot of people do but they always forget what, in my opinion, is a very significant difference.  In MtG you buy packs blind without knowing the contents.  So you are never sure what the real price of an MtG card will be.  I may have to buy 1 pack or I may have to buy many before I get what I want.  GW to their credit don't do that with Underworlds.  I knew from the start what buying the 'nine' box would cost and I can then decide if the parts I use are worth that cost to me personally.  Just take a look at the secondary market for the sought after MtG cards.  The price of the best cards is high if you want the luxury of knowing what you are buying and several companies exist just to service that secondary market.  All of the money they make is money that the game producers don't get.  

So for me personally I'm really OK with the fact that if I just want card X from warband Y I know what it will cost and if I choose to pay that then the money I pay goes to GW and I can hopefully believe that it will, at least in part, be used for R&D into new products for the game. 

I'm just not sure that the 'model tax' you refer to is going to be in any meaningful way significant.  Especially if it's the case that you had the choice of three purchase options. 

'Cards + models' = X

'Cards' = X - 25%

'Models' = X - 25%

If that was the case and I had bought the 'nine' cards only and later down the line I really want to play the 'nine' warband then I would end up paying 150% of the price I could have got them both for and wiped out two lots of 'savings' from only getting the cards from a different two releases.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a huge supporter of the BAR and would support a of universal cards rotation.  When the the BAR first dropped it really helped to freshen up the meta.  I agree that as things go on the number of cards will become to large and cumbersome. 

With that said I do not support rotating out models.  I would allow all warbands and their respective faction cards to stay in rotation indefinitely.  I have some close attachments to some of my warbands and if I couldn't use them anymore after 2 years I would be done with Underworlds.  A 2 year expiry date on models is to short for me especially when I buy every release.  

So far the BAR has only included universal  cards so if a rotation does happen this gives me a small hope it will only be universal cards. 

I only play match play games in my community so open play would not be a viable solution for me. 

 

  • LOVE IT! 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This comment really needs to go in both threads but this one seems to be where the conversation is headed. Where I am now with this is, I am most likely going to buy the new core box as that will come with whatever the new game mechanic is, new boards and maybe some new scenery, hopefully not another Stormcast Warband (3 is enough), and then just buy the warbands I want to play with. This is regardless of card rotation or not. 


I have read through all the very detailed and well-articulated arguments for card rotation, and I agree with them. I don’t play in tournaments so I don’t have to keep up with any meta and I don’t want to carry on spending £150 a year on a game that isn’t my main game. I have enough now, and Shadespire and Nightvault together are a good game that I can get years of enjoyment out of, I still haven’t tried all of the warbands yet. However, if GW decided to sell the Universal Cards separately, I would carry on buying them*, I don’t want to carry on buying warbands that don’t interest me anymore, I don’t like to have models un painted in boxes.

I agree with a lot of what @PlasticCraic  says, I think we are in the same boat. 

So I would be happy for this game to go to card rotation, I think if they just added the next years set of cards into the mix that would make it even less appealing as I feel there are too many cards right now.  But I will probably be getting off the boat regardless, might take it out on sunny bank holiday though.   

*added bold text in case GW marketing exec reads this lol
 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just like @cplhicks I do not support, in any way, rotating out models, especially not after only two years. This is not just a card game, digital or otherwise.  While modeling/painting is not as tied to the game as it is in other GW games, it's clear (from what they themselves show and say) that the hobby is still very much a part of the experience. I have all the warbands, and in some cases more than one copy, and they are all painted. If I found out that my little art pieces had a two year life expectancy, I'd drop the game and spend the time painting other models that I could use for decades instead.

Yes, I know I can play in basement games, but as I said in the other thread, that is just not a realistic option for me.  It's tournament prep all day, every day. Other games are 'wasted' in the eyes of others.

Plus, the BAR does the job. Even on that list, there were no Frost Liche Jaina cards or Secret Hunter decks. The only reason I kept going the last year or so with those around was the knowledge that these egregious offenders were going to Wild shortly (and now have). If Hearthstone did not have rotation, I would not play. Underworlds simply doesn't have the soul-killing issues that Hearthstone does that can only be solved by rotation. Plus, Hearthstone can be 100% free to play, so cards going away costs the player zilch.  Not so for Underworlds.

I would accept (though not like) rotation of the Universals for Underworlds, but if any models were axed, that would be it for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is from an article about Underworlds Online on Eurogamer.

'While remaining tight-lipped on the specifics, he did say "we're doing something a bit different to other CCG-style games, as we're not a CCG, and we're keen to give players as much choice as possible when they come to create their decks."'

While this is a comment about the online version, it makes me wonder if this is going to be GW's policy for the main game too. 

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-04-26-warhammer-underworlds-online-is-a-faithful-recreation-of-the-great-board-game?fbclid=IwAR3WO5Jr8qwmglx3f-QCJDCBwvdegz4ganT8OSHXg3-Zb_FJPg0J2M0uazo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/27/2019 at 9:22 AM, Sleboda said:

Just like @cplhicks I do not support, in any way, rotating out models, especially not after only two years. This is not just a card game, digital or otherwise.  While modeling/painting is not as tied to the game as it is in other GW games, it's clear (from what they themselves show and say) that the hobby is still very much a part of the experience. I have all the warbands, and in some cases more than one copy, and they are all painted. If I found out that my little art pieces had a two year life expectancy, I'd drop the game and spend the time painting other models that I could use for decades instead.

Yes, I know I can play in basement games, but as I said in the other thread, that is just not a realistic option for me.  It's tournament prep all day, every day. Other games are 'wasted' in the eyes of others.

...

I would accept (though not like) rotation of the Universals for Underworlds, but if any models were axed, that would be it for me.

The BAR list doing its job is a good point to make. With its first iteration, I was finding I was spending 4 of my 5 slots on objectives (with the obligatory Ready for Action). Now, with the amount of good objectives out there, I can use some of my restricted slots on Ploys or even upgrades (my last deck took 2 restricted upgrades, god forbid). So that shows its impact on the meta. I expect its update will shake it up again.

I can't see them benching warbands. GW is a model company after all and limiting warbands for play is counter intuitive to shifting more product. Absolutely expect the rotation of Shadespire universals (which impacts the BAR list once again - suddenly Fired Up, Sudden Growth, Loner, Pit Trap are all back in play).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...